Senate, House Pass Raoul’s Pioneering Plan to Reform Policing

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Measure first in the nation to set body cam protocols, implement presidential policing task force recommendations

SPRINGFIELD, IL — Illinois State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) has negotiated and secured passage of a groundbreaking law enforcement reform package that includes standards for the use of officer-worn body cameras. Its approval makes Illinois the first state in the nation to pass legislation codifying many of the recommendations of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which released a report this spring in the wake of widespread concern over police-community relations and racial disparities in officers’ interactions with the public.

“Quickly yet carefully, we crafted a package of reforms that demonstrate a serious commitment to restoring trust between law enforcement and communities,” said Raoul, who has worked since last year on body camera standards and other reforms. “The steps we have taken today are a response to recent, tragic officer-involved deaths but also a public acknowledgement that communities are only truly safe for all their residents when police and the people they serve can trust one another. We know there is much progress to be made on that front, and that was the impetus for this proposal.”

Working with State Representative Elgie Sims (D-Chicago 34th), who sponsored the legislation in the House, Sen. Tom Bivens (R-Dixon), Rep. John Anthony (R-Morris) and Rep. John Cabello (R-Loves Park), Raoul brought community and civil liberties groups, law enforcement, states’ attorneys and the Attorney General together to negotiate a package that puts Illinois at the forefront of restoring public trust in law enforcement.

“These were difficult but respectful bipartisan negotiations that I think can serve as a model for how we handle many complex issues in state government,” Raoul said.

Senate Bill 1304 implements numerous recommendations of the federal task force by

·        – Requiring independent investigations of all officer-involved deaths

·        – Improving mandatory officer training in areas such as the proper use of force, cultural competency, recognizing implicit bias, interacting with persons with disabilities and assisting victims of sexual assault

·        – Creating a statewide database of officers who have been dismissed due to misconduct or resigned during misconduct investigations

·        – Improving data collection and reporting of officer-involved and arrest-related deaths and other serious incidents

·        – Establishing a Commission on Police Professionalism to make further recommendations on the training and licensing of law enforcement officers

The legislation also prohibits the use of choke holds by police and expands the Traffic Stop Statistical Study, which provides insights into racial disparities in vehicular stops and searches, to include pedestrians whom officers “stop and frisk” or temporarily detain for questioning. Finally, it codifies rules concerning the appointment of special prosecutors.

Illinois is also poised to become the first state with standards and protocols that apply to any of the state’s law enforcement agencies that choose to use body cameras. These policies include:

·     – The cameras must be turned on at all times when an officer is responding to a call for service or engaged in law enforcement activities.

·     – The cameras can be turned off at the request of a crime victim or witness, or when an officer is talking with a confidential informant.

·     – Recordings are exempt from FOIA with some exceptions:

·        Recordings can be “flagged” if they have evidentiary value in relation to a use of force incident, the discharge of a weapon or a death.

·        “Flagged” recordings may be disclosed in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act; however, in certain sensitive situations, such as a recording of a sexual assault, victim consent is required prior to disclosure.

·     – Recordings must be retained for 90 days or, if “flagged,” for two years or until final disposition of the case in which the recording is being used as evidence.

While SB 1304 does not require law enforcement agencies to deploy the small, uniform-mounted recording devices, it does create a competitive grant program for departments to obtain money toward purchasing the cameras. The grants, as well as the legislation’s additional training requirements, will be funded by a $5 increase in fines for traffic violations.

“Improving police-community relations is about making cultural changes over time, and no single technology or policy will bring about the sea change we need,” Raoul said. “That’s why Illinois is taking the lead in implementing a large toolbox of reforms I believe will work together to combat misconduct, misunderstanding and mistrust.”

The reform package passed the House Thursday and the Senate today; it must now go to the governor’s desk for his signature before becoming law.

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